An outage in Tanja has left over 66 residences without phone and internet service for almost a week.
Service provider Telstra said the outage was due to a damaged main telecommunication cable, but difficulties in reporting the problem and restoring service has triggered a broader conversation among residents about what exactly they are paying for.
Because Tanja is a mobile black spot area, the loss of landline phone and internet services left the area without any means of communication for six consecutive days from Thursday, February 15.
Tanja resident Lisa Roberts said this created an unacceptable risk to residents.
“There are elderly people and young families in the area who can’t make a phone call in an emergency situation,” she said.
“If there is a car crash or a snake bite or a medical emergency and we can’t make a call for help, will Telstra accept responsibility for the outcome?”
As a business owner, Ms Roberts said Telstra has also put her at financial risk.
“Without a phone or internet it is impossible to manage my staff, make payments, or communicate with clients,” she said.
“It is costing me and other Tanja based businesses thousands of dollars.”
When does it become Telstra’s financial responsibility and not mine to improve the service?Lisa Roberts, Tanja resident
The outage drove Ms Roberts to demand answers about Telstra’s “intermittent” service in Tanja.
She has contacted Telstra customer service, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, Bega Valley Shire Council and Federal Member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly.
“I am charged $80 a month but I only get a fraction of the service,” she said.
Ms Roberts also paid $1800 to install a mobile reception booster antenna at her home that has not delivered the promised level of service.
“When does it become Telstra’s financial responsibility and not mine to improve the service?” she said.
Ms Roberts wants the issue to be dealt with on a community level, not an individual one, and is putting pressure on Telstra to assign a case manager to the issue.
Telstra area general manager Chris Taylor confirmed a Telstra cable was damaged by a third party on February 15, impacting fixed land lines and internet.
Telstra technicians were dispatched the next day to assess the damage and commence fixing the cable and services were restored on February 20.
The service provider did not comment further on the outage or the inconvenience to customers.
Telstra has been recontacted regarding the safety and compensation of customers following the outage.